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Judgment on Israel’s Enemies


An Oracle.

The word of the L ord is against the land of Hadrach

and will rest upon Damascus.

For to the L ord belongs the capital of Aram,

as do all the tribes of Israel;


Hamath also, which borders on it,

Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.


Tyre has built itself a rampart,

and heaped up silver like dust,

and gold like the dirt of the streets.


But now, the Lord will strip it of its possessions

and hurl its wealth into the sea,

and it shall be devoured by fire.



Ashkelon shall see it and be afraid;

Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish;

Ekron also, because its hopes are withered.

The king shall perish from Gaza;

Ashkelon shall be uninhabited;


a mongrel people shall settle in Ashdod,

and I will make an end of the pride of Philistia.


I will take away its blood from its mouth,

and its abominations from between its teeth;

it too shall be a remnant for our God;

it shall be like a clan in Judah,

and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites.


Then I will encamp at my house as a guard,

so that no one shall march to and fro;

no oppressor shall again overrun them,

for now I have seen with my own eyes.


The Coming Ruler of God’s People


Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!

Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!

Lo, your king comes to you;

triumphant and victorious is he,

humble and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.


He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim

and the war-horse from Jerusalem;

and the battle bow shall be cut off,

and he shall command peace to the nations;

his dominion shall be from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.



As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,

I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.


Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;

today I declare that I will restore to you double.


For I have bent Judah as my bow;

I have made Ephraim its arrow.

I will arouse your sons, O Zion,

against your sons, O Greece,

and wield you like a warrior’s sword.



Then the L ord will appear over them,

and his arrow go forth like lightning;

the Lord G od will sound the trumpet

and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.


The L ord of hosts will protect them,

and they shall devour and tread down the slingers;

they shall drink their blood like wine,

and be full like a bowl,

drenched like the corners of the altar.



On that day the L ord their God will save them

for they are the flock of his people;

for like the jewels of a crown

they shall shine on his land.


For what goodness and beauty are his!

Grain shall make the young men flourish,

and new wine the young women.


He continues the same subject, but uses various figures, that he might more fully confirm what then was incredible. He indeed reminds them that God would not save his people in an ordinary way, such as is common to men. He compares them to sheep, that they might know, as I have said already, that their salvation would come from heaven, as they were themselves weak, and had no strength and no power; for to show this was the object of this comparison. He declares then that the Jews would be saved, because God would supply them with every thing necessary to conquer their enemies; but that he would in a wonderful manner help their weakness, even like a shepherd when he rescues his sheep from the jaws of a wolf. For the sheep, which escapes death by the coming of the shepherd, have no reason to boast of victory, but all the praise is due to the shepherd. So also God says, that it will be his work to deliver the Jews from their enemies.

By saying, his own people, he seems to confine to his elect what appeared too general; for he had said save then will God. It is however certain that the people who were then small, had been cut off, so that the greater part had perished; but at the same time it was true that God was a faithful guardian of his people, for there were then many Israelites, naturally descended from their common father Abraham, who were only in name Israelites.

He then adds another similitude, — that they would be elevated high, like precious stones in a crown, which are borne on the head of a king, as though he had said, that they would be a royal priesthood according to what is said in the law. He had said before, They shall subdue the stones, or, with the stones, of a sling. More correct seems to be the opinion of those who read with the stones of a sling, 114114     This rendering is supported by the Septuagint, the Targum, the Vulgate, and adopted by Grotius, Marckius, and Newcome. But to “subdue” or tread down, “the sling-stones” is the version of Kimchi, Piscator, Dathius, and Henderson; who have thought that the Greeks are here called “sling-stones,” by way of contempt, as the Jews are called “crown-stones” in verse 16, by way of honor; the first were common and worthless; the second rare and precious. What seems unfavorable to this metaphor is the expression, “lifted up as ensign,” as applied to “the stones of a crown.” The words [אבני נזר], have been rendered, “stones of separation,” that is, stones separated, set apart and consecrated to a particular use. See Genesis 28:18; Joshua 4:5,20. Hence Blayney’s version is, “consecrated stones,” in accordance with the Septuagint, “[λιθοι ἁγιοι] — sacred or holy stones,” and also with the Syriac and Arabic versions. They were stones, as it seems, set up as memorials of victory. Suitable then is the expression, that they were raised, erected or lifted up as banners or ensigns over the land. “Crowned trophies” is the rendering of Newcome, — stones encircled by a crown as monuments of victory. But whether we render the words, consecrated or crowned stones, the same thing is meant: and the propriety of the principle which follows becomes evident. — Ed. that is, that the Jews would conquer their enemies, not with swords, nor with arrows, but only with stones, in the same manner as Goliath was slain by David. Though not given to warlike arts, nor exercised in the use of arms, they would yet, as the Prophet shows, be conquerors; for their slings would be sufficient for the purpose of slaying their enemies. But some think that heathens and the unbelieving are compared to the stones of the sling, because they are worthless and of no account; which at the first sight seems ingenious, but it is a strained view. It is not at the same time improper to consider that there is here an implied contrast between the stones of the sling, and the stones of a crown; the Jews would cast stones from their slings to destroy their enemies, and they themselves would be precious stones. The Prophet seems here to represent the holy land as the chief part of the whole world. Elevated, he says, shall be the stones of crown over the land of God. Had he said over Egypt or over Assyria, the connection of the clauses would not have been so appropriate; but he names Judea, as the head of the world, and that the Jews, when prosperous and happy in it, would be like the stones of a crown, all the parts set in due order. In short, he shows, that the favor of God alone and his blessing, would be sufficient to render the Jews happy, as they would then excel in honor, enjoy the abundance of all good things, and possess invisible courage to resist all their adversaries.

Let us now enquire when all these things were fulfilled. We have said that Zechariah, by promising fullness to the Jews, gave them no unbridled license to indulge themselves in eating and drinking, but only expressed and extolled, in hyperbolical terms, the immense kindness and bounty of God to them. This is one thing.

But at the same time we must by the way consider another question: He says, that they would be like arrows and swords. Now as they were too much inclined to shed blood, he seems here to excite them in a manner to take vengeance fully on their enemies, which was by no means reasonable. The answer to this is plain — that the Jews were not to forget what God prescribed in his law: for as when God promised large abundance of wine, and a plentiful provision, he did not recall what he had already commanded — that they were to practice temperance in eating and drinking; so now when he promises victory over their enemies, he is not inconsistent with himself, nor does he condemn what he had once approved, nor abrogate the precept by which he commanded them, not to exercise cruelty towards their enemies, but to restrain themselves, and to show mercy and kindness. We hence see that we are not to judge from these words what is right for us to do, or how far we may go in taking revenge on enemies; nor to determine what liberty we have in eating and drinking. Such things are not to be learnt from this passage, or from similar passages; for the Prophet here does only set forth the power of God and his bounty towards his people.

Now again it may be asked, when has God fulfilled this, when has he made the Jews far and wide victorious and the destroyers of their enemies? All Christian expositors give us an allegorical explanation, — that God sent forth his armies when he sent forth Apostles into all parts of the world, who pierced the hearts of men, — and that he slew with his sword the wicked whom he destroyed. All this is true; but a simpler meaning must in the first place be drawn from the words of the Prophet, and that is, — that God will render his Church victorious against the whole world. And most true is this; for though the faithful are not furnished with swords or with any military weapons, yet we see that they are kept safe in a wonderful manner under the shadow of God’s hand. When adversaries exercise cruelty towards them, we see how God returns their wicked devices on their own heads. In this way is really fulfilled what we read here, — even that the children of God are like arrows and swords, and that they are also preserved as a flock; for they are too weak to stand their ground, were not the Lord to put forth his power, when he sees them violently assailed by the wicked. There is then no need to turn the Prophet’s words to an allegorical meaning, when this fact is evident that God’s Church has been kept safe, because God has ever blunted all the weapons of enemies; yea, he has often by a strong hand discharged his arrows and vibrated his sword. For when Alexander the Great had passed over the sea, when he had marched through the whole circuit of the Mediterranean sea, when he had filled all the country with blood, he came at length to Judea; how was it that he left it without committing any slaughter, without exercising any cruelty, except that God restrained him? It will not weary you, if I relate what we read in Josephus; and it is true I have no doubt. He says, that when Alexander came, he was full of wrath, and breathing threats against those Jews by whom he had not been assisted, and who seemed to have despised his authority: after having thus given vent to his rage, he at length came into the presence of Jadeus the high-priest, and seeing him adorned with a mitre, he fell down and humbly asked pardon; and while all were amazed his answer was — that God had appeared to him in that form while he was yet in Greece, and encouraged him to undertake that expedition. When therefore he saw the image or figure of the God of heaven in that sacerdotal dress, he was constrained to give glory to God. Thus far Josephus, whose testimony in this instance has never been suspected.

There is then no reason for any one to weary himself in finding out the meaning of the Prophet, since this fact is clear enough — that God’s elect have been victorious, because God has ever sent forth his arrows and vibrated his sword. At the same time there is another view of this victory; for alien and remote people were subdued by the sword of the Spirit, even by the truth of the gospel: but this is a sense deduced from the other; for when we apprehend the literal meaning of the Prophet, an easy passage is then open to us, by which we may come to the kingdom of Christ. These remarks refer to the abundance of provisions, as well as to the victory over enemies. It now follows —

The Prophet here exclaims at the incredible kindness of God, that the Jews might learn to raise up their thoughts above the world, as they were to look for that felicity which he had before mentioned. We then see that by this exclamation a fuller confirmation is given to what had been said by the Prophet, as though his words were, — “No one ought to judge of God’s favor, of which I have spoken, according to his own doings, or conduct, or experience; but on the contrary, every one of you ought to be filled with amazement at God’s incredible kindness, and at his incredible beauty.” But by the last word he understands the brightness or splendor, which appears in all God’s favors and gifts. 115115     Goodness and beauty are said to be God’s, because conferred by him. Some refer “his” to the people and others to the land. The meaning is the same, though the form of the expression would be different. As the future time is referred to, the question here may be better expressed in the future tense, —
   For what will be his goodness!
And what
will be his beauty!
The corn shall cause the young men to thrive,
And new wine the maids.

   But were the [ו] after “land” in the preceding verse to be referred to “people” in the same verse, the [ו] added here to “goodness” might be applied to the same antecedent: and this would be the most natural rendering,—


   16. And save them will Jehovah their God, In that day, even as sheep, his people: Therefore consecrated stones Shall be raised as banners over their land. For how great will be their good (or prosperity!) And how great their comeliness! Corn shall cause the young men to thrive, And new wine the maids.

   We use “they,” and “their,” when we speak of “people,” though in Hebrew the singular pronoun is used. — Ed.

He then concludes by saying, that the abundance of corn and wine would be so great, that young men and young women would eat and drink together, and be fully satisfied. Here a frivolous question may be asked, whether Zechariah allowed the use of wine to young women. But he speaks not here, as I have said before, of God’s blessing, as though it were an incentive to luxury; but what he means is, that the abundance of provisions would be so great as to be fully sufficient, not only for the old, but also for young men and young women. We know that when there is but a small supply of wine, it ought by right of age to be reserved for the old, but when wine so overflows that young men and young women may freely drink of it, it is a proof of great abundance. This then is simply the meaning of the Prophet: but something more shall be said tomorrow on the subject.

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